July 31, 2012

2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Altitude

                I love Jeeps.  Especially the Wrangler.  My first brand new car was a 2004 Wrangler.  I miss it.  A lot.  *le sigh*

Base Price: $25,545
As Driven: $37,365
Engine: 3.6L Pentastar V6, 285 hp
Transmission: 5 Speed Automatic
Curb Weight: 4,075 lbs.
Wheelbase: 116 in.
Cargo Capacity: 46.4 cu. ft./max 86.8 cu. ft.
MPG Rating: 16 city/21 hwy

                I drove the 2011 Wrangler and it disappointed me, even though the ride was much improved compared to my ’04.  The 2012 Unlimited Wrangler is still a comfortable ride and has much more muscle.  The new Pentastar V6 produces 285 horsepower and 260 ft-lbs. of torque.  All of the added horsepower and torque is quickly apparent.  Not only is there more power, but the fuel economy gets better too.

                The 2011 model averaged 15 mpg in the city and 19 on the highway.  The old inline-six engines averaged a measly 13city/17 hwy.  The 2012 model averages 16 in the city and 21 on the highway (2012 numbers from Edmunds.com).  I would have loved to have seen the ‘04 averaging 20 mpg.  I might have kept it...
                All Wranglers come stock with a 6 speed manual transmission.  My test vehicle had the automatic transmission option.  This transmission didn’t “wow” me, but it didn’t disappoint me either. 

                There is a new Altitude package.  This is Jeep’s attempt to make the all models look up to date.  Considering they had to plan this multiple years in advance, they’ve done well.  The Altitude package gets you black rims, black heated leather seats, other black accents, the 7 speaker Infinity stereo, and more black decals/badges.  It looks good, but if you’re one of those people who needs to be out in front of trends, this isn’t the package for you.  Now that the factory is producing this package, tuners and after-market shops will move on to other ways to make their cars stand out.  I hear colored chrome is the next hot thing.

                The Altitude package blacks out the outside and the inside of the Wrangler.  The interior is updated by Fiat/Chrysler.  All of the old Dodge buttons have been thrown out, shredded, melted, and turned into recyclable seats (pure speculation).  The upgraded stereo sounds good and was easy to use.  This particular vehicle didn’t have navigation.  For $37,365, you’d think that would include nav… 
                The seating position is high.  This makes perfect sense while off-road to help with obstacle visibility, but on the highway the height made me feel exposed and top heavy.  I am taller in the Wrangler than I am in my Denali.  I didn’t measure it, but it feels taller (very scientific).
                The road noise in the hard top was unexpected.  It was much lower than I expected.  I assumed I would have trouble hearing my cell phone, but it was a quiet interior.  The rain drops sounded distant and not like they were striking a tin roof.   It was a pleasant surprise.
                The ride in the Unlimited is also nice.  It is acceptable for an off-road vehicle.  The usual bumps and cracks of the road are felt, but not like the upper cuts in the tail bone like past offroaders.  The longer wheelbase has helped with that.
                The four wheel drive system is traditional.  There is a 4-Hi option and a 4-Lo option with a manual lever to choose between the two.  The 4-Hi option can be selected up to 55 mph.  To choose 4-Lo the vehicle must be stopped and in neutral.  The traction control is deactivated in 4-Lo.  I love 4-Lo. 

                My favorite part of a stock Jeep is the off-road capability.  All of the Wranglers are stout off-roaders.  I took my stock ’04 places were guys with aftermarket wheels and lifts couldn’t get to.  I Have pictures to prove it, somewhere…   My driving ability isn’t the difference.  It was all the Wrangler. 

Man, I miss it…

Thank you to Olathe Dodge Chrysler Jeep for allowing me to borrow one of their vehicles for this test drive.  If you’re interested in a Wrangler, I’d get in quick.  They are having a hard time keeping them on the lot. 

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